Slow Magic, an artist who plays drums and makes electronic music, won’t tell me his real name. Or his age. Or where he’s from. He won’t even tell me where he is as we talk on the phone and, since I’m a journalist, not a CIA agent, I can’t track his phone and find out for myself. The only things I know about him are that he’s a dude, he sounds rather young, and he wears a mask. So I ask him about the mask and I (finally) start to get some answers.
Slow Magic’s mask is striped, rainbow-colored, and outfitted with L.E.D. lights that change color with the music during his shows. It has almond-shaped eye holes, two ears, and looks sort of like a zebra-fox-wolf on acid. “It’s open to interpretation on what kind of animal it is,” says Slow Magic. “And I think that’s the essence of the whole project: It’s imaginary, so anyone can interpret it how they want to and they’re right.” (In that case, I’ll call it a zebra).
Slow Magic has worn a mask since his first show in 2012 because he’s a firm believer that “it’s more exciting to focus on the identity of the music than on the identity of me.” The original design, created by his “friend who is an artist,” has stayed the same over the years, just with a few improvements. Today’s iteration is sturdier, made of plastic and wood, and is “to an extent, pretty sweat proof.”
One thing it’s not, however, is easy to see in. Despite the eye holes, it’s like wearing “a half-blindfold,” he says, which makes negotiating the stage (i.e., not tripping over wires) and navigating the keyboard on his computer more than a little difficult. But playing the drums — that’s a different story. “I can play them with my eyes closed if I have to,” Slow Magic says, adding that he’s been playing music “since as long as [he] can remember.”
At this point, Slow Magic decides to cut me a break. He tells me that his dad is musical and that he “just kind of grew up with instruments around.” He took band class, created his first electronic album in middle school, and had a predisposition to forming bands and cajoling friends into joining them.
Slow Magic, the band, was sort of a fluke. Around 2012, he had some ideas for songs that didn’t fit in genre-wise with any of the bands he was working with then, so he decided to come up with a new moniker. He posted the songs online and, overnight, a few bloggers fished them out of the ether and wrote about them. “It was kind of exciting,” he says. “I never had support from someone across the country before.”
Encouraged by the response, he continued making music as Slow Magic, and now, almost four years later, has churned out two full albums (Triangle and How To Run Away), as well as dozens of singles and remixes. In the last year, he’s played shows in Asia, Australia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., and claims he travels so much that he doesn’t “really live anywhere.” He’s “homeless, but in a very fun way.”
Speaking of traveling, Slow Magic has even worn his mask in airports, but says that “people are always a little confused, especially in airport security.” Most of the time, he carries it in a case, but he won’t tell me what the case looks like because he’s wary of it being recognized in public.” (That said, if you see someone in an airport who is carrying a case, it could be Slow Magic).
Oddly enough, Slow Magic, who has referred to his mask as “my face,” doesn’t want the disguise to separate him from his fans. What people don’t understand, he says, is that the mask allows him to be his most genuine, personal self in front of them. He can focus solely on the music and believes that in that way, “it’s almost more personal than someone knowing what I look like or where I’m from.”
Though the mask doesn’t make the music, Slow Magic says the project will never exist sans disguise. “I feel like that would be very anticlimactic,” he says. “Unless I’m a celebrity that everyone knows. I mean, maybe that’s why I’m hiding. It’s been speculated before.”